Prospect Watch: Altoona Advances to Finals; Indianapolis Sees Season End

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time, or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Mid-Season Update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Mitch Keller, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php]
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

3. Shane Baz, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]

4. Cole Tucker, SS, Altoona – [insert_php]

5. Kevin Newman, SS, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

6. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php]

7. Will Craig, 1B, Bradenton – [insert_php]

8. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

9. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php]

10. Calvin Mitchell, OF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]

11. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php]

12Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

13. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php]

14. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

15. Jordan Luplow, LF, Pirates – [insert_php]

16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]

17. Max Kranick, RHP, Bristol – [insert_php]

18. Steven Jennings, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]

19. Adrian Valerio, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php]

20. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

21. Conner Uselton, OF, GCL Pirates – Disabled List

22. Max Moroff, INF, Pirates – [insert_php]

23. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Pirates – [insert_php]

24. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php]

25. Eduardo Vera, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php]

26. Logan Hill, LF, Altoona – [insert_php]

27.  Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php]

28. Lolo Sanchez, CF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php]

29. Dario Agrazal, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php]

30. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona -[insert_php]

P2 Top Performers



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INDIANAPOLIS — They were down to needing just five outs to force a decisive Game 5.

But a familiar problem arose at an inopportune time: Indianapolis let a late-inning lead slip away as Durham rallied for a 4-3 win to clinch the Governor’s Cup Semifinals matchup, 3-1.

The Indians led the International League with 11 leads lost after the sixth inning, with Saturday’s postseason loss being the 12th.

Indianapolis led Durham, 3-2, going into the eighth inning but Jack Leathersich and Johnny Barbato combined for a disastrous frame, though the inning started innocent enough.

Leathersich struck out Jake Bauers on three pitches, but the wheels started to fall off at that point. Leathersich walked a batter and hit another, before being taken out. Barbato entered and got a quick flyout. But with two outs, he allowed a single and walk which set up catcher Durham catcher Justin O’Conner’s two-run game-winning single.

Danny Ortiz led off the ninth inning with a single and advanced to second on Jacob Stallings’ sacrifice bunt. But Durham reliever Diego Castillo, who throws in the high-90s and hit 100 MPH, struck out Edwin Espinal and induced an Anderson Feliz groundout to end the game.

After the game, Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett held an extended meeting with his team as everybody said goodbye to each other. A season that started with an 8-16 record, ended with an International League West Division championship.

The first-year Triple-A manager was visibly emotional after the game when talking about this year’s Indianapolis team, proud of what they accomplished and how they handled themselves.

“Just gratitude,” Barkett said. “Coming in to manage a Triple-A team, especially with a lot of players you don’t know, and then to see what we ended up doing is really cool. And it was because of them. I respected them, they respected the staff. It was just gratitude and I was thankful. It’s sad that it’s over and it’s sad I won’t see them tomorrow, but thankful.”

After the game, all players were packing up their gear and belongings as some will head to the major leagues and others will prepare for winter ball or offseason workouts. Barkett’s message to the players was meaningful.

“He told us he’s managed a lot of teams and had a lot of years in professional baseball and told us this was his best experiences,” Stallings said. “And I think he meant that. I thought this was a pretty special team.”

Indianapolis appeared in position to force a decisive Game 5, leading 3-0 going into the sixth inning.
Drew Hutchison allowed two earned runs on five hits over 5.2 innings, striking out five and walking four batters. He pitched out of trouble on several occasions and gave the Indians a chance to win in what might likely be his final appearance with the organization.

A pair of hitters that did not enter the season highly touted – Erich Weiss and Stallings – provided the key offensive moments against Brent Honeywell, the top-ranked prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization.

Weiss is one of the few players who seems to know how to get the better of Honeywell. Weiss was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles – including one that scored two runs – against Honeywell, and is 6-for-12 with three doubles against him this season.

Weiss’ two-run double in the fifth inning scored Eric Wood and Gift Ngoepe. Durham’s relay throw to catcher O’Conner beat Ngoepe by several feet but the Bulls’ catcher did not even make an attempt to tag Ngoepe, who would have likely been out easily. O’Conner instead threw to third base to get Weiss trying to advance on the throw home, but that still allowed two runs to score.

Stallings provided an RBI single in the fourth inning to put Indianapolis ahead, 1-0, before that two-run double in the following inning.

Durham loaded the bases to open the sixth inning on a double, single and walk. Hutchison limited the damage, inducing a 6-4-3 double play that scored a run. That ended Hutchison’s outing after 5.2 innings. Dan Runzler entered in relief and allowed an infield single to Kean Wong but struck out Justin O’Conner to end the inning with Indianapolis still holding a 3-2 lead.

Montana DuRapau retired the side in the seventh inning on six pitches, holding Indianapolis’ slim 3-2 lead, before Durham took the lead in that eighth inning.

Danny Ortiz nearly hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning, but the first base umpire ruled the ball went foul, though it appeared it went over the foul pole. Jacob Stallings, who was standing in the on-deck circle, was animated the ball was fair but after a brief discussion the foul ruling was upheld. Ortiz went on to single but was picked-off during the following at-bat.

Durham put the first two runners in the second on base in the second inning. Pat Leonard doubled and Shane Peterson was hit by a pitch, but Hutchison rebounded with a strikeout, flyout and popout to get out of that jam.

Durham’s Shane Peterson hit a standup triple to the left-centerfield gap with two outs in the fourth inning. Featherston walked after being aided by a getting a call to go his way on a possible checked swing – by umpire Jansen Visconti at first base, which drew plenty of chatter from the Indianapolis dugout.

Weiss had a hustle double to open the fourth inning. That was set up when Durham third baseman Daniel Robertson stumbled on the bullpen mound and fell down, on what should have been a foul out. Indianapolis capitalized, but not until some clutch hitting from Stallings who had a two-out, RBI single into left field on the eighth pitch of his at-bat.

Stallings finished the season hitting .301, a stark contrast to last season when he was hitting .198 going into September. But he’s been used in the No. 3 and No. 5 spots of the lineup against Durham, and has proven to be someone that comes through in clutch moments late in the season. – Brian Peloza



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ALTOONA, Pa. – “We talked about doing this four times. That’s three. We have one more to go. Enjoy this evening, but do not be satisfied. Unbelievable goals that we have set. We got one more to go.”

Since day one, Curve manager Michael Ryan has said that their goal this season is to celebrate four times: once to clinch a playoff spot, once to clinch the division once to win their first round series, and finally once more to win the Eastern League Championship.

The Altoona Curve are now only one step away from accomplishing each one of those goals thanks to three very good starting pitching performances, capped off tonight by seven strong innings by Austin Coley. Coley went seven innings and allowed just one run on six hits. The one run against him came on a solo home run in the fourth inning.

Coley finished the season by not allowing a run over his last 15 innings of work, including back-to-back starts of seven scoreless innings. The first of those starts was the clinch a playoff spot; the second was to clinch the division. Tonight, they clinched a sweep of the Bowie Baysox.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to pitch in some big games,” Coley said.

Ryan was happy to turn the ball over to his most consistent starter on 2017.

“That’s the guy we wanted out there,” Ryan said about Coley. “The way he’s been so consistent for us all year – him and McRae have been our best starters. To have them back-to-back to follow Keller’s outing, going into this series, when we lined it up, I knew we had a chance.”

According to Coley, Mitch Keller’s game one complete game one-hit shutout set the tone for the rest of the series. Alex McRae performed admirably yesterday in a hitter’s ballpark, then Coley help Bowie’s bats at bay tonight.

“For a team to go down 0-1 in their home park and only have the minimum come up to the plate, you got to think your odds aren’t good,” Coley said about Keller’s game one start. “We just tried to keep the momentum on our side. They had a bunch of chances to score tonight, but at some point after all of the line outs and deep fly outs, maybe they began to think it just wasn’t their series. It was destined for us to win it.”

Coley was extremely efficient early, but he needed some help behind him to keep things close. Elvis Escobar, Michael Suchy, Jordan George, and Jerrick Suiter all made above average defensive plays to keep Bowie off of the scoreboard (other than the home run). His changeup was really good, as it has been all season, throwing it to batters on both sides of the plate.

“I was throwing it both ways,” Coley said of his changeup. “I was able to get me out of some jams and get it over to keep them off-balanced.”

Coley then began working more with his fastball late, as hitters were expecting more of his breaking ball.

“I think I had them thinking a little bit,” Coley said.

In the fifth, Coley allowed a lead-off double. After a groundout to advance the runner to third, Coley got a big strikeout then another groundout to strand the runner. At the point in the game, the Curve were only up 3-1, so it was a huge inning for Coley to get through unscathed.

“That at-bat was huge in the game to be able to keep it on our side,” Coley said of his strikeout looking to Erick Salcedo on an inside fastball. “I knew I had to strike Salcedo out. He fouled off some good pitches down and away. We tried to go in first and missed, but we went in again. Jin-De did a great job receiving it.”

After Coley’s seven innings of work, Tanner Anderson came in to close the game out. In the ninth he allowed a couple of infield singles; however, Bowie never got the ball out of the infield against him in his two innings of work.

Offensively, Pablo Reyes and Jerrick Suiter each had two hits. Reyes homered in the fifth the stretch the Curve lead to 4-1.

In the sixth, Wyatt Mathisen faced off against Bowie’s Jordan Kipper and sent a 2-1 fastball over the left field wall to give the Curve a 6-1 lead. They would never look back.

“We had a scouting report that he was a sinker/slider guy,” Mathisen said. “First two were sinkers that didn’t sink too much, then he threw me a slider. I knew he would come back sinker with a guy on first. I got the head out a little more than I have been and jumped on it.”

Mathisen seemed to pause and enjoy it for a moment after the ball left the bat.

“I knew I got it, and I was going to take my time,” he said. “I don’t hit a lot of them, so I was going to enjoy it.”

The Curve went 5-14 against Bowie in the regular season; however, many of those games were one-run outcomes. The regular season record didn’t matter this series, as they swept them easily.

“We played three perfect games,” Ryan said. “To keep them off of the scoreboard like we did, thanks to our starting pitching, that’s the reason we are celebrating.”


*The Curve lost Cole Tucker for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken left hand. Tucker has a slight fracture of the third metatarsal in his hand thanks to jamming it into third base on a slide yesterday. It is his understanding that nothing is misaligned, and the injury is very minimal. He will have it x-rayed again in two weeks. Also, as of today, he still expects to play in the Arizona Fall League.

With Tucker going down, the Curve had a great replacement in Kevin Kramer waiting in Altoona. Kramer found out last Saturday that he would go on a rehab assignment and rejoin the Curve for their championship series if the team made it. Tucker’s injury opened the door for Kramer to get back in the lineup tonight, rather than wait until the next series.

“It’s bittersweet to get Kramer back,” Ryan said. “We got the next man up attitude obviously, but it’s a big loss with Cole. He’s our heart and soul and an unbelievable leader. He was playing so well. It’s not a coincidence that we ended the year good and carried momentum into the playoffs; he had a lot to do with that. He’s a top of the order guy. We say, ‘you go, we go’ when we talk to Cole. Not only offensively, but defensively he’s made some unbelievable plays. It’s a big loss. It’s a lesson to be learned for him. We’ll move forward, and he’ll be back.”

For now, Mitchell Tolman will fill in the lead-off role. He and Kramer will flip flop between the designated hitter and second base in the championship series.

*Brandon Waddell is slated to get the game one start for the Curve in the Eastern League Championship Series.

*The Curve will face off against the Trenton Thunder in the championship. For many of these guys, it is a rematch of organizations from last year’s Florida State League Championship. – Sean McCool


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Bradenton finished their season with a 70-62 record.


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West Virginia finished their season with a 69-67 record.


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Morgantown finished with a 40-35 record.

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Bristol finished their season with a 17-49 record.


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The GCL Pirates finished their season with a 26-34 record.


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The DSL Pirates finished with a 36-34 record.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Mark N

Tim –
Nicasio getting two consecutive saves against the Pirates is nothing but a huge embarrassment from an optics standpoint with the fan base, and does nothing but support their claims that the organization puts saving money over winning. Your defense that they made this move to get young pitchers more innings is simply disingenuous and as I suspected at the time, proven false. They have expanded their rosters less than any team in the majors. If you want to use the excuse that they were keeping guys down because of the playoffs, then they should not have made this move until the playoffs were over. The other night when the Cubs game was scoreless in the 9th, did they have Nicasio to put in the game? no. Did they put a young prospsect in the game? no. They put in Hudson, a garbage ventran who proceeded to lose the game for them. These past few weeks we have seen plenty of LeBlanc, some Benoit, and very little “prospects”. Most games the Pirates starter doesn’t go more than 5 innings, so its not like there are a lack of innings to go around for relievers. While I realize they were already out of contention when the move was made, it helped cement views of Nutting putting savings over winning (even if meaningless games), and the impact was amplified that Nicasio went to a division competitor who has now helped beat the Pirates twice. On top of this, the Cards received a prospect, which is better than the 0 return the Pirates received. Shameful.


Guys like you were calling Nicasio a ” garbage veteran “, whatever that is , last season. The column was about the Curve. Go away.

Mark N

Actually I never did. Instead of you talking trash, why don’t you write something wih substance to refute my comment. You won’t because you can’t.


Great job by the Altoona Staff of Manager, Michael Ryan; Hitting Coach, Kevin Riggs; Pitching Coach, Bryan Hickerson; and Coach Greg Picart. This team is not loaded with prospects – a real blue collar group, but they fought hard to be where they are at now in the EL Championship Series.

Bill W



Really happy to see Altoona sweeping Bowie. It says they went 5-14 but it really felt like they won only one or two games against them. Also relieved to know Tucker could play in AFL!!

And since Indy’s eliminated, I’m interested in which starters the Pirates would call up. I’d expect Glasnow to start instead of Taillon next week. Then Kingham, Holmes, Hutchison… bad feeling they won’t call up Kingham, hopefully I’m wrong.


I think Kingham and Hutchison will both get starts for the Pirates. Kingham because he will be with the Pirates coming out of ST 2018, and Hutch to possibly generate some off-season trade interest. He has the MLB experience of I think 70 starts for Toronto, and could step right into some MLB Rotations.


probably not a good time to mention leathersich barbato trades


Jhang with a triple, hope someone timed it!

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